Without Christmas There Would Be No Reason To Hope

During my 46 years of priesthood, I have received many Christmas cards. Some of them had messages that were profound and I kept them for my own personal prayer and reflection as well as to use in my preaching. I can’t tell you exactly how long I have had the following Christmas message but it has traveled with me to at least four friaries when I was transferred.

GOD KNEW OUR GREATEST NEED

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.

If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.

If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.

If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.

But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.

I need Christmas 2015 because I still need a Savior. 2015 was filled with many graces and sadly I must admit that I didn’t always respond to the graces. This is not false humility because if humility is truth, then I can honestly say that I did not always think, talk, nor act in a way that made it very clear that I was a follower of Jesus Christ. I would venture to say that every Christian in an absolute moment of candor would admit the same thing.

They say that Christmas is for children. I agree but why stop there. Christmas is for adults also because adults have seen enough Christmases to know that without Christmas there would be no reason to hope.

We are in the final countdown to Christmas. Although you will have many things to do, gifts to purchase and wrap, cookies to bake, trips to take, I encourage you to take five minutes every day to talk to the your Savior. He loves to hear from us. And don’t forget: “To love another person is to see the face of God.”

Celebrate Hope

More than ever I believe we need this Advent Season.
In a world filled with bad news, Christians celebrate hope.
The Prophet Isaiah gives us a vision of what the Kingdom of God will look like when it finally comes.
St. John the Baptist used Isaiah’s vision to tell us that every mountain will be made low, every valley filled in, rough roads will be made smooth and crooked roads made straight.
God tells his preachers to go up on a high mountain and preach Good News.
St. Paul tells us: “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Again I say: “Rejoice.”
There is no greater evidence that Catholicism is counter-cultural than the way Catholics celebrate Advent. By the time you read this blog, most Americans who celebrate Christmas will have done their Christmas shopping, put their Christmas tree up, decorated the house, and even attended a Christmas party.
I believe that Advent is meant to slow us down so that we can pray and reflect on one very important truth: Jesus is the Reason for the Season. This truth is why we can celebrate Advent Hope. St. Peter told us to always be ready to tell people why we hope. Here are some reasons why I hope.

Jesus said He would not leave us orphans.

Jesus said that He and the Father would make Their home in us.

Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against us.

Jesus said that His disciples would be able to do things Jesus did and even greater things.

Jesus said that whoever believed in Him would have eternal life.

Jesus said that as the Father loved Him, so He loves us.

So you see the main reason why I hope is because I believe Jesus was telling the truth.
Please take time this Advent to reflect on Jesus’ words and remember: To love another person is to see the face of God.

Thanksgiving should lead to “Thanks-living”

Giving thanks should come easy for most of us. However, there are certain times in each of our lives when the “dark clouds” block the sunshine. On those days, we may have to reach a little deeper into our hearts to find reasons to give thanks. I have memorized and try to say the following litany every day because it puts my problems in perspective. You might want to do the same.

LITANY OF THANKSGIVING

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS INSTEAD OF YOUR CROSSES.

COUNT YOUR GAINS INSTEAD OF YOUR LOSSES.

COUNT YOUR SMILES INSTEAD OF YOUR TEARS.

COUNT YOUR COURAGE INSTEAD OF YOUR FEARS.

COUNT YOUR JOYS INSTEAD OF YOUR WOES.

COUNT YOUR FRIENDS INSTEAD OF YOUR FOES.

COUNT YOUR FULL YEARS INSTEAD OF YOUR LEAN.

COUNT YOUR KIND DEEDS INSTEAD OF YOUR MEAN.

COUNT YOUR HEALTH INSTEAD OF YOUR WEALTH.

COUNT ON GOD INSTEAD OF YOURSELF.

It seems to me that the reason why we should emphasize Thanksgiving once a year in a big way is so we remember to give thanks every day. At Mass the priest begins the Eucharist Prayer with the following words: “It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation always and everywhere to give You thanks.”

Someone once said that Thanksgiving should lead to “Thanks-living.”  Amen to that.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving and remember: TO LOVE ANOTHER PERSON IS TO SEE THE FACE OF GOD.

Marriage Takes Three

Yesterday, Nov. 14th, I led an all day marriage preparation class. There were forty engaged couples. It was held at St. Cecilia’s Church in Rochester, PA. Two couples helped me to give the talks, one younger and one older. The younger couple, whom I married, have three boys. The father is in the air force reserves and every two years, he is away from home for four months, flying in the Middle East. I wanted the engaged couples to hear how they, especially his wife, handle these months away as she takes care of sons, 10, 8 and 5 years old. Great boys but they are extremely active and therefore high maintenance.
The second couple told the story of how the husband, a police officer, was severely hurt stopping a criminal. He was not expected to live. He did live and after months of therapy, he can walk a bit with a staff. He is constantly in pain. Their testimonies, (especially the wife’s)  was truly inspirational. I think the engaged couples were deeply touched.
For over 30 years, I have been helping engaged couples prepare for marriage. Over those years, I have seen the challenges that young people face as they say yes to each other. Challenges around long hours at work, finding time for each other, money problems, addiction problems, fertility problems, the high divorce rate, and letting God play a role in their lives.
The couples are always very respectful and seem eager to receive good information to help them make a lifetime commitment. At the end of the day, I offer them the opportunity to have their engaged rings blessed. They really are happy to receive the blessing, each couple individually. Here are the words I say as I take their hands in mine. “May God bless this ring. It is a sign of how much this couple loves each other. May their love grow deeper every day. May their wedding day be very special. Jesus, please play a big role in their marriage. Amen”
 Here is a poem that I found that I share with the couples.
MARRIAGE TAKES THREE
I once thought marriage took just two to make a go.
But now I am convinced it takes the Lord also.
And not one marriage fails where Christ is asked to enter
As lovers come together with Jesus at the center.
But marriage seldom thrives and homes are incomplete
Till He is welcomed there to help avoid defeat.
In homes where God is first it’s obvious to see
Those unions really work, for marriage still takes three.
God bless you and remember: “To love another person is to see the face of God.”

Pray for our Veterans and Soldiers

Both of my brothers were in the army. The older one was a medic in Germany. The younger one was in Vietnam in the advanced infantry. He saw action and when he came home, it took him awhile to let go of the painful memories.

This Veteran’s Day I have been asked to address a group of Veterans. The invitation came from my cousin who served in the Second World War. He is 88 years old.

The title of my talk is: ONE DAY CAN CHANGE EVERYTHING. I will talk about certain days in history that changed the world.

I want to encourage you to acknowledge our veterans on Nov. 11th. If you can, put a green light in your window to acknowledge the sacrifices they made for our country.

Please pray for our men and women in the military. Here is a prayer you might want to pray for the safety of our soldiers.

“Almighty and eternal God, those who take refuge in You will be glad and forever will shout for joy. Protect our soldiers as they discharge their duties. Protect them with the shield of Your strength and keep them safe from all evil and harm. May the power of Your love enable them to return home in safety, that with all who love them, they may ever praise You for Your loving care. We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen”

Until next time, remember: TO LOVE ANOTHER PERSON IS TO SEE THE FACE OF GOD.

Father Scott

Symptoms of Inner Peace

The older I get, one of my biggest priorities is having the peace Jesus talks about in John’s Gospel.

“I will give you a peace the world can not give.”

This reflection has helped me. Perhaps you will find it helpful.

Wishing you many blessings!

Father Scott

Symptoms of Inner Peace 

by Saskia Davis

Here are some of the most common symptoms of ‘inner peace’. If you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms, you’re doing something right!

– A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.

– An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.

– A loss of interest in judging other people.

– A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.

– A loss of interest in conflict.

– A loss of the ability to worry.

– Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.

– Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.

– Frequent attacks of smiling.

– An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.

FR. SCOTT’S JOYFUL REFLECTIONS BLOG

After 20 years of being on the radio, I said good-bye to my listeners on June 28th. Since then I have heard from many people saying they missed hearing me speak about contemporary issues. They told me they liked how I would offer support in dealing with the challenges of daily living, especially stress and worry.

Therefore, I have decided to write a weekly blog. I hope that it will bring many people encouragement. Life can be very difficult and I know God would want me to do whatever I can to help.

I will address many of the topics I dealt with on the radio, but if there are any topics that you would like me to tackle, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Like my radio ministry and my newsletter, I have entitled my blog: JOYFUL REFLECTIONS. One of the gifts that God has given me is the ability to use humor in a way that helps reduce stress. Being a Capuchin-Franciscan priest for 46 years, joy is something I try to spread wherever I go. I remember seeing a sign that read: “Laughter is contagious, be a carrier.”

Someone once said that each letter in the word JOY could have a special meaning.
J would stand for Jesus.
O would stand for others.
Y would stand for you.

So, if you put Jesus first, others second, you will fall right into place. Yet even the most dedicated follower of Jesus will find this spirituality hard to follow at times  because it takes a lot of practice to keep Jesus uppermost in our thoughts, and it takes a lot of humility to place another person’s needs ahead of my own.

In St. John’s Gospel Jesus said: “I will give you a joy that is complete, a joy that no one can take away.” If you think about it, only we can take away our joy. Throughout history there have been many examples of people who have suffered great hostility, sickness, and poverty, yet did not lose their joy because it was rooted in Jesus.

So this week I urge you to practice this JOY Therapy so you can receive the blessings that Jesus wants to give you.

Remember: TO LOVE ANOTHER PERSON IS TO SEE THE FACE OF GOD.